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Small, silent robot cleaner

LG's Hom-Bot may appear disorganised when cleaning, but it does the job competently

For a robot vacuum cleaner, the latest LG Hom-Bot (model VR66900TWA) is surprisingly chatty. It issued a warning - in a female voice - when one of its two side brushes became entangled in the net of my children's toy goal post. It also informed me when its battery was low.

However, I was often unable to hear what it was saying because of the din from the suction motor or simply because I was too far away.

To be fair, the Hom-Bot is one of the quietest robot vacuum cleaners I have tried. LG says it produces a noise level of around 64 decibels or slightly louder than a normal conversation.

Because I am used to noisy vacuum cleaners, its relatively silent operation made me doubt its cleaning efficacy. It is probably for people like me, as well as those who have a very dusty home, that LG has included a Turbo mode.

This mode, which is automatically activated when cleaning carpets, bumps up the speed of the suction (and the noise level) for a more thorough cleaning.

However, it does not feel as smart as some of its rivals.

For instance, it meandered around my living room for longer than expected, seemingly unable to locate its Home Station charging dock, after I had earlier ordered it to charge (it takes around three hours for a full charge that offers around 100 minutes of usage).

It would also scoot confidently between the legs of chairs and then get stuck. It managed to extricate itself after a couple of minutes, which felt like an eternity when you are watching it.

  • FOR

    • Quiet operation

    • Low enough to move under most furniture

    • Cleans decently and offers mop option

  • AGAINST

    • Pricey

    • No virtual boundary feature

    • App options are basic

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $1,499

    HEIGHT: 89mm

    WEIGHT: 3kg

    BATTERY USAGE TIME: 100 minutes

    DUST CAPACITY: 0.6 litres

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3.5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I also found it frustrating to watch it clean. Its default zig-zag cleaning mode did not seem orderly to me. At times, it would head off to a different area before returning to the same spot later.

Still, despite appearing disorganised, the Hom-Bot took around 37 minutes to do a complete sweep of my living room, which is about the same amount of time taken by other robot vacuum cleaners I have tested.

At just under 9cm tall, the Hom-Bot could fit under most of the furniture in my home, allowing it to clean oft-overlooked areas.

It was only later when I checked the cleaning diary - a visual map of the path it took while cleaning - in the companion LG SmartThinQ app (on iOS and Android) that I realised there is an order to the cleaning pattern.

LG should also offer the option in the app - like some other robot vacuum cleaners - to mark off areas where the robot should not enter, such as the bathroom, using virtual markers on a map.

Instead, I had to use the included magnetic strips to physically cordon off the out-of-bounds zones.

You can schedule the robot to clean while you are away. This can be done using its remote control or the LG SmartThinQ app. The latter can also be used to remotely start a cleaning session.

It comes with a number of cleaning modes, though the most useful one is Spot, which asks the robot to clean an area of 1.5m in diameter around its current location.

A Learning mode lets the robot memorise the layout of the environment so as to better avoid obstacles.

A separate mop plate with a built-in water reservoir and a microfibre cloth lets the Hom-Bot freshen up your floor as it vacuums.

You probably still need to mop your floor manually as the manual says to use only water, not cleansing solution or detergent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2019, with the headline 'Small, silent robot cleaner'. Print Edition | Subscribe